Sunday, September 24, 2006


Renewing an Addiction

It's with considerable trepidation that I greet the news of a new Eastside Hockey Manager release; on the one hand, it's a fantastic game, and the new design looks pretty sharp, but on the other, I have a job, writing projects, and drinking habit, all of which EHM will distract from.

For those not familiar with the game, it's based on SI Games' popular (soccer) Championship Manager series, in which you, uh, try to manage your team to the championship. Graphics are basic -- photos of the players, team logos, and a bunch of circles running (skating) around during game play. It's addictive as hell.

Much as I love the classic video games, EHM is so much more satisfying for me -- the challenge of building a team, the joy of discovering a diamond in the rough (sometimes an unrealistic one; in an older version of the game, Pardubice's Jan Kolar could be turned into a regular 35-goal NHL scorer, and you could trade, say, Mike Danton for Jaroslav Balastik and watch Jaro score 45 goals a year for the next four years), the level of detail (I've had players leave the team in anger, and develop personal problems -- Anton Volchenkov did the first, Theo Fleury and Jes's buddy Balastik again for the second).

I've been playing EHM since it was shareware, and it's become considerably more difficult, which is good. In the shareware days I quit playing as the Avalanche because the five straight Stanley Cups got dull. In the three (I think?) years since SI Games started selling it, I've only managed two championships -- a Thrashers Stanley Cup win and a Ceske Budejovice Czech Extraliga win. With the most recent version, I pretty consistently missed the playoffs in the NHL, and was happy with a third-place finish in the Extraliga.

I think some of my favorite features are gone from the new version -- it looks like they no longer have rights to the Extraliga, which sucks, and means the teams will, presumably, be generically called "Prague," "Zlin," whatever. Also, I'm guessing poor Tomas Kloucek will no longer have the talent levels of a top-two NHL defenseman. Still, I'm pretty stoked to get it. Let's hope for lots of rain in Atlanta over the next few weeks, so I have an excuse to stay in.

I've been waiting for this baby for the last month. Each version of this game gets harder compared to what it was like with their first version.

I think the best trade I was able to pull off in the 2005 version was Ryan Smyth and 2nd round pick for Ovechkin and Semin. Ovechkin was injured for 4 months at the time of the trade while Smyth was kicking ass.

I've yet to find a good online league for the 2005+ game. Everyone is still playing the first version.
Every year I tell myself I won't buy the next version.

Every year, I succumb. Last year, I bought it the day it was released.

The only *real* question this year is "do I buy the Mac or the PC version?"

Achtungbaby: given the number of mouseclicks the freeware version takes, I'm not surprised there's no online leagues for 2k5. Scouting would be a pain in the ass. SI need at least an "export all settings for this team", even if things like contract offers have to be input manually that would be a vast improvement. I run an online league for the freeware version; it's a lot of fun, but it might be nice to have the more advanced features available in the for-pay versions. But given all the mouseclicking? No thanks. But if you're interested in exploring an online league for 200x: drop me a line, contact info is available from the link provided.
Just a technical point, SI used to produce Championship Manager, but when they parted ways with EIDOS they lost rights to use the name so it's now "Football Manager". Championship manager is now developed by a different company - same name, different game. (and is apparantly not brilliant)
I'm always looking for a good league to join. I'll be seeing you and thanks.

Scouting 'is' a pain in the ass in the newer versions as it takes forever to get your hockey club going. This wasn't a problem in the original EHM program as another program called PlayerScout took away most of that problem for you. Another program would look after you schedule for you. Good times.

For all of those time saving convienences(???), I think I played the first version the most.
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